DOL Sues Manufacturer After It Fired Employee Who Tried to Call 911

The company's owner insisted the worker drive the injured employee to an urgent care clinic instead, according to OSHA.

The U.S. Department of Labor has filed a lawsuit against Lone Star Western Beef and John M. Bachman, the West Virginia company's owner, after an incident that left an employee with a severed thumb.

The incident occurred in July 2014 when a worker severed part of his thumb. A co-worker attempted to call 911 before Bachman ordered she hang up the phone and drive the injured worker to an urgent clinic. The worker was eventually transferred to a hospital where doctors were unable to reattach the body part; the worker who tried to call 911 was terminated two days later.

OSHA reported the co-worker discussed the incident with a Department of Agriculture inspector.

"Lone Star Western Beef punished an employee for seeking emergency medical care for a seriously injured co-worker. Her efforts were protected under Section 11(c) and showed basic human decency," said Richard Mendelson, OSHA's regional administrator in Philadelphia. "No worker should have to fear retaliation from their employer for calling 911 in an emergency, or taking other action to report a workplace safety or health incident."

The case has been filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The lawsuit seeks back wages and punitive damages for the terminated employee.

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